A Marxist and Neo-Marxist Reading of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) offers a nightmarish portrait of a futuristic world where human beings are reduced to the level of automations for establishing stability. In fact, Huxley’s portrayal of the World State is heavily influenced by the socio-political climate of his time. Contemplating the possible misuse of emerging technologies by rulers for perpetuation of power, Huxley attempts to alert the readers about the perils of mass culture which diminish people’s ability to think critically. Brushed aside as an insignificant work by many critics initially, the novel’s social relevance and Huxley’s concern for social welfare was later felt, the application of Marxist and Neo-Marxist literary principles to it indicating that it continues to remain relevant in the twenty-first century. Marxism interprets history in terms of class struggle. It affirms that the modes of production of material life condition social, political and intellectual life process in general. The Marxian notion that those who control material production have control over the rest of the society is taken literally in Huxley’s Brave New World where the World State owns the production of human progeny. However, the production of babies in Hatcheries, chemical conditioning of embryos and hypnopaedia ensure that class struggle is avoided in the imaginary world, as the citizens are made to accept their social status without dissent. It would, however, be simplistic to assume that Huxley’s dystopia aims merely to terrorise modern society. In the words of Raffaella Baccolini “…utopia is always maintained … only outside the text” (520) and the readers are expected to consider dystopias only as warnings, so that they can prevent them from becoming reality.
Keywords: class struggle, dystopia, hypnopaedia, mass culture, utopia
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